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Effects of vehicle seat and belt geometry on belt fit for children with and without belt positioning booster seats

In: Accident analysis and prevention. Vol. 50 (Jan. 2013), p. 512-522.

Authors: Matthew P. Reed, Sheila M. Ebert-Hamilton, Kathleen D. Klinich, Miriam A. Manary, Jonathan D. Rupp.

A laboratory study was conducted to quantify the effects of belt-positioning boosters on lap and shoulder belt fit. Postures and belt fit were measured for forty-four boys and girls ages 5–12 in four highback boosters, one backless booster, and on a vehicle seat without a booster. Belt anchorage locations were varied over a wide range. Seat cushion angle, seat back angle, and seat cushion length were varied in the no-booster conditions. All boosters produced better mean lap belt fit than was observed in the no-booster condition, but the differences among boosters were relatively large. With one midrange belt configuration, the lap belt was not fully below the anterior–superior iliac spine (ASIS) landmark on the front of the pelvis for 89% of children in one booster, and 75% of children failed to achieve that level of belt fit in another. In contrast, the lap belt was fully below the ASIS for all but two children in the best-performing booster. Child body size had a statistically significant but relatively small effect on lap belt fit. The largest children sitting without a booster had approximately the same lap belt fit as the smallest children experienced in the worst-performing booster. Increasing lap belt angle relative to horizontal produced significantly better lap belt fit in the no-booster condition, but the boosters isolated the children from the effects of lap belt angles. Reducing seat cushion length in the no-booster condition improved lap belt fit but changing cushion angle did not. Belt upper anchorage (D-ring) location had a strong effect on shoulder belt fit in conditions without shoulder belt routing from the booster. Unexpectedly, the worst average shoulder belt fit was observed in one highback booster with a poorly positioned shoulder belt routing clip. The shoulder belt was routed more outboard, on average, with a backless booster than without a booster, but raising the child also amplified [...]

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